I enjoy spending some time in total silence. For example, when I write these Spiritual Essays and/or Reflections on life, there has to be total silence, so that I can hear the Holy Spirit direct me. Now, people ask if I really hear the Holy Spirit... well, the answer is yes and no. Do I hear the Lord speaking to me, as when you and I are having a conversation. No. But the Lord does guide me, as these essays will bear out. He directs me to write the right thing, at the right moment, about a subject that other people can learn from, and, which leads back to the Father. It is only in total silence that we can hear Jesus!
One problem with silence is, we live in this busy world, this noisy world, and silence is a scarce commodity. I live alone, so it is quiet in the house. I do not mean to imply that having a family is necessarily noisy but it could be. Also, I live in an area which is remarkably quiet, considering that my place is located very near to very busy U.S. 1. Many of these road noises are shielded out by buildings that lie in between my place and the road, and by dense vegetation.
I've often written, in this series of articles, that if we want to hear Jesus we have to find a quiet corner to pray. In Florida, many houses have pools. A quiet corner by the pool seems very appropriate, but in summer probably too hot and humid. I am comfortable at my computer desk (with the computer off, of course) because I have certain images on the wall in front of me that spur me on to quiet prayer. I wish I had an even more peaceful corner, but I don't. A friend of mine has made a place in awalk-in closet. The top of a small dresser holds statues and a crucifix and a cork bulletin board against the wall could hold intentions to be prayed for. This is one way to follow the Word of Jesus in Holy Scripture ". . .when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Mt 6:6) We have to shut the world out, otherwise we cannot hear Jesus. We have to learn how to shut our internal motor down, so we can be receptive to His inspiration, His guidance and His love, even though these gifts of God only take a split second to discern. Do we hear Jesus? Yes, but often not in so many words... we hear Him when our actions are directed toward Him rather than toward materialism, self-serving actions, and other behavior not consistent with our Catholic Faith and our personal dedication to Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine, the great Doctor of the Church, lived from the year 354 to 430, and his writings are popular today, among peoples of all faiths, but especially the Catholic Church where those writings are frequently quoted in 2nd Readings (Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours), and in all sorts of prayers. I would like to end this Spiritual Essay by quoting a short meditation of St. Augustine on the "Lord's Prayer".
I cannot say
OUR, if my religion has no room for
others and their needs.
I cannot say FATHER, if I do not demonstrate this relationship in my daily living.
I cannot say WHO ART IN HEAVEN, if all my interests and pursuits are in earthly things.
I cannot say HALLOWED BE THY NAME, if I, who am called by His name, am not holy.
I cannot say THY KINGDOM COME, if I am unwilling to give up my own sovereignty and accept the righteous reign of God.
I cannot say THY WILL BE DONE, if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
I cannot say ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, unless I am truly ready to give myself to His service here and now.
I cannot say GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, without expending honest effort for it or by ignoring the genuine needs of others.
I cannot say FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US, if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.
I cannot say LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.
I cannot say DELIVER US FROM EVIL, if I am not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapons of word and prayer.
I cannot say THINE IS THE KINGDOM, if I do not give the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal subject.
I cannot say THINE IS THE POWER, if I fear what my neighbors and friends may say or do.
I cannot say THINE IS THE GLORY, if I am seeking my own glory first.
I cannot say FOREVER, if I am too anxious about each day's affairs.
I cannot say AMEN, unless I honestly say, " Cost what it may, this is my prayer."
Using this short but powerful meditation, praise Jesus for His teachings, His love and His Kingship. Thank Him for all He has done for you. In the quiet of your prayer corner, away from all household noises, open your heart to God, to the Holy Spirit,and listen to the Voice of God as He speaks to you in so many wonderful ways.
Fred S. Schaeffer, OFS
February 18, 2014
(First written in Feb. 2006, Canticle; re-edited 2014)